The economy and cost of homes and rent are causing more people to turn to other means of living while still bringing in a paycheck.
The Supreme Court recently upheld a Seattle-based court ruling that a person's vehicle can in fact be their home.
A blue-collar worker living out of his truck
Since 2014, Steven Long has been working as a part-time janitor and handyman, trying to save money for an apartment. In 2016 Steven Long’s home was impounded by Seattle police because he parked it on a public unused gravel lot for more than three days.
Impounded vehicles are usually sold at public auction after a ruling has been made that the violator can not pay the fines to retrieve the vehicle. Once it has been sold, the impounding company gets its share and the city gets the remainder.
Often the vehicles are bought by individuals who then rent them back to the original owner, causing more problems for the financially unstable.
For Long he just hoped his car wasn’t sold yet because his truck contained his work tools and all his other possessions. So once the truck was taken, not only was Long unable to work, he was also forced to spend his days outside.
He was able to retrieve his truck just before it was to be sold at auction. Had the vehicle been sold, Long would have lost all of his possessions and his ability to work and save for an apartment. Long later took the city to court over the incident.
Can a truck be impounded if it’s your home?
Longs’ lawyers agreed that the incident could be considered unconstitutional. The Eighth Amendment protects individuals from cruel and unusual punishment, and Long's case fits the cruel and unusual.
Washington's Supreme Court ruled on August 12, 2021, that the seizure and impounding of Long's truck was indeed unconstitutional because the truck is in fact his home.
The ruling is a huge step for the homeless people who move their vehicles every few days to avoid impounds. Even though the vehicles can no longer be impounded, the three-day rule still exists to keep non-working vehicles off public property.
After the court case, Long returned to living in his truck without the fines hanging over his head. He continues to work to earn his way to a new apartment. The only difference is that he now has a better working truck and is more confident he won't lose everything for parking it too long.